By Paul Lagan at Centre Court, Wimbledon
Gauff v Buzarnescu
Coco Gauff will win Wimbledon – whether that is this year remains to be seen, but this is a champion in the making.
She struggled to get through the new entrance to the Centre Court, but she showed the exit fairly unequivocally to Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Coco Gauff is the real deal. At 18, she has the power of a player five years her senior.
She’s also remarkable agile round the court, and has a dexterity in control of the racquet that is not taught, it’s natural.
Her opponent Buzarnescu was no slouch either, and the opening exchanges between the duo on Centre Court gave the half full arena something to enjoy in the late evening under the closed roof and lights.
Gauff’s power play was dominant and the Floridian raced into a 5-2 led and when on Buzarnescu’s serve and on deuce, successfully challenged an in ball that was clearly out.
Buzarnescu survived that set point, but overhit a simple return and after 31 minutes Gauff had secured the first set.
The Romanian opted for a comfort break before the start of the second set, but that did not put off Gauff as she thumped her way to an easy service win.
Buzarenescu’s only real hope was to experience a dip in performance from Gauff, to bring her closer to her level.
The baseline slugfest continued deep into the second set as both performers tried to outdo the other. Gauff showed greater flexibility with a couple of cross-court winners after a long rally.
She also a produced a wonderful drop shot winner from the baseline.
Buzarnescu did well to survive her service at 3-2 – a wayward ball down the line by Gauff finally ending a war of attrition in the Romanian’s favour.
But the break, when it came in the ninth game – once more following a long rally ended only by the fraction of a ball’s width went in Gauff’s court and at 5-3 the American was serving for the game.
Two aces took Gauff took the brink of victory and she finished it off with third and decisive ace.
A sensational end to a match lasting one hour and 30 minutes.